January, 2019 SDRA Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter

January, 2019

www.sanddamreservoir.com

Officers’ Updates

President- Judy Colaluca

Happy New Year, Sand Dam Reservoir Association!

This is the time of year to reflect and think ahead. As I sit contemplating the past and visualizing the future of our Association and its Mission, I am again feeling honored and pleased to hold this office of President. There are numerous hard working, dedicated people on this lake, and the teamwork that has developed during the past few years is wonderful.  If someone can’t do a certain job, someone else comes forward. For example, when the majority of SDRA members decided to use herbicides on the lake, a herbicide committee and a non-herbicide committee developed, both dedicated to protecting, preserving, and improving our beautiful lake. All work together, and much respect was shown toward a difference of opinion. Both committees have extensive goals for the year. Reaching these goals will benefit the entire Association.

Thanks to all our SDRA members, Judy

Vice President- Carolyn Fortuna

With the new year upon us, we at Sand Dam Reservoir Association have many goals ahead.

  • The drawdown continues amidst one of the rainiest winters in memory.
  • We have a current fundraising campaign that will offer the Association a reserve fund for herbicide spot treatments.
  • A grant application to the Rhode Island Foundation is underway which seeks funding for rain and swale ponds, as we need to do whatever we can to control nutrients that wash into the Reservoir through stormwater runoff.
  • We’d like to schedule a dam area cleanup in the early spring to coincide with Earth Day.
  • If you’d like to join the Boat Greeter program, which usually commences with the beginning of fishing season, please contact Mary O’Keeffe. This is a really fun and interesting activity that takes only about an hour or so each time there is a bass tournament.
  • Our annual Bella’s Wine Dinner will take place on May 18 — protect the date on your calendar! We’ve sold out of this event for each of the last 2 years.
  • A committee will be needed to make the suction harvester ready for use for the 2019 season. Sections of the lake bottom harvested in 2017 were largely weed-free in 2018, so we are confident that this sustainable method of invasives removal is effective.
  • We’ll begin our first full year of the Lakesmart RI program in conjunction with the Maine Lakes Society. If you’d like to have your lake/ land interface assessed to learn more about how you can protect the water quality of Smith & Sayles Reservoir, let Carolyn Fortuna know.
  • The annual meeting is the 3rd Wednesday in June, and the nominating committee is beginning its formidable process of seeking candidates for office. Please see Rico Colaluca, Steve Hanley, and/or Janice Baker if you’re interested.

That brings us to the midpoint of the year — whew! As an all-volunteer association, we depend upon the generous donation of time from our members. We cannot succeed without you. Please try to join us for as many activities as possible; no matter the event and your physical capabilities, there is a place and task for you. “Many hands make light work.”  

We appreciate you! Carolyn

Secretary- Mary O’Keeffe

I echo the sentiments of our President and Vice President — it is an honor to work with such knowledgeable and dedicated individuals as those who serve on the SDRA Board. One recent change in response to requests from the membership has been to send email notices of all SDRA Board meetings to the full membership, along with approved minutes from previous BOD meetings. In order to make the most productive use of everyone’s time, we work hard to adhere to Robert’s Rules of Order and follow a preset agenda. Non-Board members are welcome to attend the Board Meetings and raise questions/concerns under the New Business section of the agenda, time permitting. As mentioned above, the Annual Meeting will be held Wednesday, June 19th, 2019. The nominating committee will be seeking candidates for several Board positions that will become vacant. One good way to learn about the roles and responsibilities of the various Board positions is to attend a SDRA Board meeting.

In order to keep all of our friends and neighbors in the SDRA “loop,” I need current email addresses (or postal mail addresses for those who do not use email). If you have a new neighbor who should be included on the list, please forward their email address or ask them to contact me at SDRA.secretary@cox.net or SDRA Secretary, PO Box 284, Chepachet, RI 02814. Thanks, Mary

Fundraising: Annual Bella’s Wine Dinner

Eric LaRiviere and Marissa Danville

On May 18, 2019, Sand Dam Reservoir Association will host our third annual wine dinner at Bella’s Restaurant in Pascoag, RI. Our local somalier Kevin Kitson will offer a selection of wines to accompany a multi-course dinner.

We have sold out this Bella’s Wine Dinner event each of the last two years, so don’t wait too long to make your reservations! Contact Eric, Marissa, or Judy for for information or to reserve a table of 10 — while they last.

We’ll have a Silent Auction and a 50-50 raffle — plus, returning by popular request, is the fabulous musical group, Black Tie Affair. Wear your dancing shoes!  

Fundraising: Updates for Herbicide Spot Treatments

The Herbicide Committee

The SDRA is following up with its outreach for donations. The goal is to build a kitty that would enable the SDRA to conduct hot spot treatments when needed. Such treatments help to protect the larger investment ($12,000) made in the summer of 2018. Key findings noted in Solitude’s Report of the June 2018 herbicides application indicated:  

“Milfoil density was greatly reduced… The native plant assemblage seemed to be unaffected from the treatment. Bladderwort and thin leaf pondweed appeared to be common in non-problematic densities throughout the lake.  Although the program worked well to control problematic variable milfoil during the summer season, we did observe some regrowth, therefore feel it is necessary to continue monitoring and spot treating if necessary, in 2019.”  

The report concludes that such action is “…necessary for the long-term maintenance of Sand Dam Reservoir recreational and ecological value.” It is likely that such treatments will be needed in additional years as well. (The full report can be found on the SDRA website.)

Donations to date range from $50 – $1000. Some have made a one-time donation, while others have chosen to spread out their payments over 10 – 12 months.  If you have not already participated in this fundraiser to establish the herbicides budget reserve, we urge you to do so. (Donor names will remain confidential.)  

Checks should be made out to SDRA and mailed to:

SDRA, ATTN:  Marissa Danville, Treasurer, PO Box 284, Chepachet, RI 02814.

Also, please send a note stating the total amount you are donating and whether you are making a single payment or a pledge. If the latter, please specify the number of planned monthly payments.  

As SDRA continues to work on our many companion efforts such as lake drawdown, the suction harvester, and educational programs, please support this effort. When the whole village is involved the burden is lighter for all.  Thank you.

— Deb and the Herbicide Committee

Fundraising: A RI Foundation Grant Application

The Non-Herbicide Committee

Here is an excerpt from our most recent grant application. Wish us luck! Thanks to Save the Lakes for sponsoring the SDRA grant application.

Stormwater poses a significant problem as Sand Dam Reservoir Association (SDRA) draws from a toolkit of strategies to mitigate invasive species. SDRA in Chepachet, Rhode Island has spent 10 years attempting to control nuisance aquatic vegetation, including the exotic invasive variable-leaf milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) from Smith and Sayles Reservoir (SSR). We have developed programs including a boat ramp greeter program, an annual drawdown, a bi-annual lakeside cleanup, suction and hand harvesting, and, most recently, a Lakesmart RI land/ lake interface educational program. We are ready to take on construction of rain and swale ponds.

Our proposed project will construct 6 Rain and Swale Ponds on Smith & Sayles Reservoir (SSR) at strategically situated sites on the shores of the 187 acre lake. We will start with one pilot pond and expand outward as we work alongside a landscape architect and a landscape designer. We will gain expertise and soon train a cohort of youth interns and volunteers, who can then assume more of the construction and planting costs.

Rain and swale ponds are important tools for mitigating stormwater runoff and reducing erosion. Rain and swale ponds are linear grass covered depressions which lead surface water overland from the drained surface to a storage or discharge system, typically using road verges. Unlike a conventional ditch, rain and swale ponds are shallow and relatively wide. They provide temporary storage for storm water and reduce peak flows. They are located close to the source of runoff and can form a network within a development linking storage ponds and wetlands.

Additionally, our non-herbicide committee has shared a federal grant application that we wrote in 2018 with the Herbicide Committee. We are conscious of the time that is involved in background research anytime one of the SDRA sub-committees writes a grant, so we want to alleviate any repetition of time or effort for another committee such as the herbicide committee takes on. The Non-Herbicide Committee.

Drawdown Report from Judy Colaluca and Art Searle — including data published on the Lake Management Plan page of the SDRA website

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The rain gauge at North Central State Airport in Smithfield, RI measured more rainfall during the October, November, and December months of this year than any year during the 2013-2018 period. Since our drawdown started, nearly 18 inches of rain has fallen on the nine and one half square miles of Smith and Sayles’ watershed. That’s over 9,000 acre feet of water. RIDEM and our lake management consultants cautioned us that drawdowns are not guaranteed to work every year. January 5 saw a continuation of nature’s wet trend with an additional 1.72 inches of precipitation.

To date, the closest we have been able to get to our permitted fifty four inch drawdown depth is 35.5 inches below capacity on 12/14/2018. Sometimes, the weather simply doesn’t cooperate, and this year is shaping up to be one of those years. Current drawdown details may

Based on Art Searle’s research and DEM’s permitting process, Mike Benoit has been instructed to close the gatehouse and leave the spillway open for the remainder of the season.

Sincerely, Judy

Precipitation by Month (inches) Central State Airport, RI
October November December Total
2013 0.86 4.73 2.35 7.94
2014 4.6 6.07 6.28 16.95
2015 0.25 0 0.64 0.89
2016 4.68 2.91 2.88 10.47
2017 3.88 2.14 2.35 8.37
2018 5.09 8.7 4.08 17.87

Boat Launch Greeter Program

Results from the Boat Launch Greeter Voluntary Inspection Program’s 7th season suggest that we may be seeing some progress in promoting proper boater hygiene to help stop the spread of invasive species to our lake. During past summers, our inspections have found plant material (suspected invasive weeds) on 20-25% of boats arriving at the boat launch. During the 2018 season we inspected about 60 boats, 15% of which were “dirty” with weeds.  While it is too early to tell whether this represents a meaningful positive change, it is encouraging. Likewise, I have noticed a positive change in boaters’ response to the voluntary inspection program. “I truly appreciate what you guys are doing” (NE Bassin, RI Division) is an example of the feedback received from fishing tournament organizers in response to our Boat Launch Greeter Program.

Those of you who attended the 2018 SDRA Annual Meeting heard Katie DeGoosh from RI DEM’s Office of Water Resources talk about the critical importance of our Boat Launch Greeter Voluntary Inspection Program. While fewer “dirty” boats were observed this summer, some of the boats arriving at the launch were very dirty, with many weeds dragging from boats and trailers.  Our volunteers educate visitors about the importance of the CHECK, CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY routine and work with the boaters to inspect and remove weeds before entering our lake. Information about source and type of suspected invasive weeds is communicated to DEM for follow-up. While Massachusetts penalties for “dirty” boats are $25-$100 for 1st offense, $100-$1,000 for a 2nd offense, and $1,000 to 60 days in jail for a 3rd offense, Rhode Island does not currently have a similar Aquatic Invasive Species law. It falls to our volunteers to educate visitors to minimize the spread of invasive weeds to our beautiful lake.

I hope that you will consider joining us during the 2019 season. If you’d like to learn more about the Boat Launch Greeter Voluntary Inspection Program and/or be included on the Boat Launch Greeter email list, please contact me at mokeeffe@providence.edu or (401)568-2657. More information is also available at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/water/quality/surface-water/aisresp.php.

Bi-Annual Dam Cleanup from Judy Colaluca

Mother Nature had her own agenda this fall. There was just no opportunity to conduct our Bi-Annual Cleanup at the dam. As soon as the weather improves in the early Spring, we hope to be able to gather and clean the area around our dam.  

SDRA has been asked to join in the Earth Day Cleanup in Glocester. More information will be distributed as the weather improves. SDRA is a leader in cleaning up Glocester. Thanks, Eric Lariviere, also, for your continued efforts to foster awareness of the legal requirements to cover refuse in open truck beds.

Keech Pond News — Rico Colaluca

John Holmes, from Keech Pond, informs me the runoff at the bottom of Keech Dam Road has been improved by developing a swale to disperse water into the rock garden before entering our lake. This improvement will prevent winter salt and sand from washing into our lake.

Thinking about Running for a 2019 SDRA Office? Rico Colaluca, Steve Hanley, and Janice Baker

Now is the time to think about the upcoming SDRA elections this June. Please inform us of your intentions to serve as a Board member or as an Officer of this important organization.

Save the Lakes Looks Ahead at 2019 Judy Colaluca

Save The Lakes is honored to work alongside SDRA to acquire a grant that will eventually benefit all fresh water in Rhode Island. The creation of rain and swale ponds around Smith and Sayles would be a new tool to mitigate stormwater runoff and reduce erosion. This is a wonderful opportunity for collaboration and teamwork. Thank you, Carolyn Fortuna, for all your continuous effort and drive to complete this grant.

Want to Know More about SDRA? Visit our Association Website

Our website is a source of a large variety of information. For example, now that Attorney Christopher D’Ovidio is now on retainer for SDRA, he is able to use the website as a resource as he accumulates background. This will be useful as he currently researches our SDRA 501 (c) 4 status.

Spotlight on Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn has worked hard and has given tremendous amount of her time to endeavors on our lake. Developing and managing our Website and this quarterly newsletter for SDRA to keep all members informed of planned activities and other important events is fantastic!  This is only the beginning of her many useful projects.

Carolyn coordinated and completed the writing of two grants to benefit Smith and Sayles Reservoir. This was a mammoth job!! Carolyn organized the “Lake Smart” program in Rhode Island under the direction of the Maine Lake Smart coordinator.   This program is designed to improve the quality of our water when waterfront landowners follow the suggestions.

Carolyn is always ready to do a cleanup, develop the powerpoint for our Annual Meeting, research a suggestion, host a Board meeting, and contribute in countless other ways to improve our lake.  Carolyn is a true friend of the environment and an essential member of our SDRA Board.

Thank you, Carolyn, for ALL you do!!!

Final Thoughts — from President Judy Colaluca

  1. Please consider getting involved by joining a committee or becoming an officer or board member of SDRA.
  2. When cleaning up your beach front, consider best practices.
  3. Consider a donation to the Herbicide Committee.
  4. Mark your calendar for the Wine Tasting Event on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at Bella’s Restaurant.
  5. Enjoy the winter season!!  Happy New Year

SDRA April, 2018 Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter

www.sanddamreservoir.com

April, 2018

Officers’ Updates

President- Judy Colaluca

Again, the members of SDRA have come together to pursue avenues to control the invasive weed milfoil growing in our lake. As we know, there are landowners favoring herbicide and those who are opposed to applying chemicals. SDRA now has two committees.  Both committees are willing to work hard to fund their beliefs. Both committees report directly to the Board of Directors. I have the privilege of being a member of both committees. Moving forward, everyone is striving to reach SDRA goals. Join the Committee of your choice.

The Wine Tasting Dinner at Bella’s Restaurant on April 14th is almost a Sold Out event! Very few tickets are left. This is sure to be a great success again this year!  Thanks to ALL who organized and planned this fundraiser. Get your tickets before they are gone!

Due to litter concerns expressed by SDRA at Town Council meetings, Glocester will be celebrating Earth Day on April 21st with a town wide clean-up. Thank you, Councilwoman Pat Henry for supporting this effort! Mark this date on your calendars. More information to follow.

Special Recognition of a Sand Dam Reservoir Association Member

There are many, many folks who deserve to be recognized for their dedication to OUR beautiful Smith and Sayles Reservoir. In future newsletters, I will be recognizing a person who willingly gives time and effort to SDRA. Mike Benoit follows in his predecessor, Dave Morin’s, footsteps. He is always willing to go to the dam and/or the gatehouse to make water level adjustments. Sometimes he just knows what needs to be done, and, at other times, Mike is only a cell phone call away. Mike works with his son or other members of SDRA to insure the lake levels are adjusted for our constantly changing New England climate.  

Thank you, Mike, for all you do!!

Vice President- Carolyn Fortuna

On a raw and blustery day in early March, I represented SDRA and Save the Lakes at the Land and Water Conservation Summit (LWCS) at the URI/ Kingston campus. The Summit is an annual day-long conference that brings together representatives from land trusts, watershed organizations, and municipal conservation commissions for a day of learning and networking. What a wonderful day it was!

I was surrounded by 300 area individuals who are concerned about protecting our region’s lands and waters. Keynote speaker Gus Seelig, who is executive director of the  Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, talked about “Building Community Through Conservation: Lessons from 30 Years.” I attended the Watershed Organizations’ Meeting and heard about the restoration project taking place on the Wood-Pawtuxet River, where dam alterations, sediment solutions, and riparian changes are encouraging  the return migration of alewife (blue herring). (You can learn more about this process of repairing 300 years’ worth of anthropogenic influence through dam removal here.)

The LWCS lots of hands-on workshops designed to enhance technical and organizational effectiveness. You can read articles I wrote about the conference by clicking through these links: “I Know We Can Make It: Clinging To Conservation Progress In Hard Times” and “Mashup Messaging: How To Create Effective Climate Change Communication.”

Thanks very much to Save the Lakes for sponsoring my attendance at the Land and Water Conservation Summit. It was so great that I think we should send a team from SDRA next year!

Secretary- Mary O’Keeffe

Your SDRA Board has been busy, meeting monthly to work on behalf of the Association to protect and preserve our beautiful lake. I feel privileged to work with the dedicated individuals who you have elected to serve.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the concept of Resilience, the ability to thrive and flourish in the face of adversity. Two factors that promote Resilience are a sense of community (social connectedness) and environmental engagement. It seems to me that being an active member of SDRA is a perfect recipe for Resilience, and I hope you will make a point of actively participating in the various efforts to protect and preserve the lake.

Fundraising efforts are underway to raise money for the chemical treatments that a majority of members voted in favor of as a strategy to control invasive milfoil. Those of us opposed to chemical treatments are engaged in fundraising efforts to support non-chemical strategies such as the suction harvester and a Lake-Smart program to promote responsible landscape practices to protect water quality.

In addition to fundraising, members are needed to help with various activities throughout the year (community trash pickups, community weed pulls, working on the suction harvester, working at the boat launch, water quality monitoring, and more). Becoming more involved in SDRA efforts will allow you take an active role in keeping our lake beautiful, and it will also help to make you more Resilient – a win-win!

Director’s Updates

Director– Marissa Danville

Do you ever stand on your docks and look out and around at our beautiful lake? Because I sure do. With spring upon us it’s like the lake and trees are awakening. You can hear the water flowing once again, the birds chirping, the frogs croaking, the occasional plop of a fish jumping out of the water, and soon the turtles will be back. Last month, I had the pleasure of capturing a picture of this stunning bald eagle flying overhead. The wildlife around here is remarkable. We work hard to preserve our lake for ourselves and our neighbors (people and animals alike) and I want to thank you for all that you do to protect our environment. I look forward to enjoying this season out by the water’s edge or on the lake and I hope to see you there sometime. See you at Bella’s!

Committee Updates

Boat Greeter Program – Mary O’Keeffe

Soon we will be getting the list of 2018 fishing tournaments being held on Smith & Sayles reservoir. One important effort to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species is the Boat Greeter and Voluntary Inspection Program. Since 2012, I have coordinated our volunteer Boat Greeter program to educate boaters about the importance of proper boater hygiene in preventing the spread of invasive weeds.

Smith & Sayles has had problems with invasive milfoil for years. During summer 2017, invasive inflated bladderwort was also identified in our lake.  American lotus, curly-leaf pondweed, fanwort, spiny naiad, and water chestnut are among the other invasive plants that have been found in nearby lakes – we don’t want them in our beautiful lake!

Over the past 6 years we have talked to hundreds of boaters and inspected hundreds of boats. On average, about 20% of the inspected boats have plant material that could be an aquatic invasive. Our goal is to develop a partnership with the people who visit our lake, educating boaters about best practice in cleaning boats and equipment, and performing inspections to identify and remove aquatic hitchhikers. We need your help!

Information about the program can be found at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/water/quality/surface-water/aisresp.php#GREAT

If you are interested in helping with the Boat Greeter and Voluntary Inspection Program, please email me at mokeeffe@providence.edu or call 568-2657. Thanks!

Drawdown – Judy Colaluca and Art Searle

Mother Nature conspired to end our drawdown in early March with deluge after deluge and northeaster after northeaster. Maintaining a low lake level became impossible, and the temperatures were just too warm to freeze milfoil. Earlier in the winter, though, we did have freezing conditions where the lake bed was exposed as visualised in the following chart.

While there may have been more incidences of the average temperature being less than 32 degrees, we recorded ten days where the lake bed was not covered by snow and the average temperature was 32 degrees or colder.

The next visualization of our drawdown records shows the average temperature and lake depth during the critical cold weather months of November through February.

In February, executive board and lake management team members met with Chuck Horbert, of  RI DEM. Chuck is in charge of freshwater wetlands permitting. We met with Chuck to discuss the possibility of increasing our permitted drawdown depth from 54 inches to 60 inches. As a result of the discussion, the idea of applying for a greater drawdown depth has been tabled, primarily due to permitting and engineering costs, data suggesting an undesirable impact on the lake’s fish population, and the less than optimal chances such a permit would be granted.

We look forward to continuing drawdowns as recommended by the lake management plan and are eager to observe the effects of our most recent drawdown on our milfoil mitigation efforts. For additional information, please refer to our Lake Management Plan.

Education and Website – Steve Hanley and Carolyn Fortuna

We currently have 367 followers of the Sand Dam Reservoir website. When you follow the site, you get an immediate notification of a newsletter. The site has been handy recently for communication with DEM, reference to by-laws, and acknowledging our mission statement for possible funding sources. Soon we’ll be posting the 2018 RI Bass Association calendar of visits to Smith & Sayles Reservoir, and that calendar provides us with a schedule for the 2018 SDRA Boat Greeter program.

Quarterly SDRA newsletters are an integral part of education/ website, as they offer our members the opportunity to receive an overview of recent happenings. These planned periodic updates also respect the expressed membership desire to limit the amount of SDRA notifications sends.

As a final education and website note, please send us any pictures of waterfowl, wildlife, or natural phenomenon — we’ll make sure to put it on the website. Send these to schanley45@gmail.com.

Events Sponsored by SDRAEric LaRiviere and Marissa Danville

Please join us on Saturday, April 14, 2018 for an evening of delicious foods, interesting wines, energizing music, and wonderful conversations at our annual fundraiser at Bella’s Restaurant in Pascoag, RI.

Kevin Kitson of Chepachet Village Wine and Spirits will again provide his guidance and expertise as we sample a variety of wines, which will be matched course-by-course with dishes specially designed for the event by the chefs at Bella’s. (Vegetarian options are available, too — just notify the person who sold you the tickets.) Entertainment from Black Tie Affair, which was such a big hit last year, is sure to make the evening memorable. This year’s Silent Auction led by our Board Member, Marissa Danville, has many desirable baskets and gift cards already (please feel free to offer a donation, as we can certainly fit in more items.) An ever-popular 50-50 raffle is another way that our fundraising team is working to do everything we can to provide fundraising options to SDRA in our fight to mitigate invasive species on Smith & Sayles Reservoir.

The Bella’s Wine Tasting and Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact Judy Colaluca or Eric LaRiviere.

Fundraising — Two Committees with One Focus: Mitigating Invasive Species

Non-Herbicide: A team of interested SDRA members has been meeting through an conference call method since late 2017. Working together online allows us to get input from individuals who may not be able to be together in Rhode Island at the same time. During one call, we had call-in’s from Florida, Wyoming, South Dakota, and RI! Here’s what we’ve been doing.

  • January: We applied for the “Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program” made available through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Our proposal was titled, “Lakeside Buffer Community Collaboration Project.” In essence, SDRA would be the pilot site for a project that will inform and educate property owners how to design aesthetically-pleasing water/ land interfaces that do not feed and sustain invasive weeds. The project is part of a larger effort across RI inland watersheds to mitigate and control invasive plants. Save the Lakes is our supporting organization.
  • February: We seriously considered applying within the EPA Environmental Education Grants Program, which was seeking grant proposals to support environmental education projects that promote environmental awareness and stewardship and help provide people with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. However, after spending several hours on the grant application, we agreed that the grant was meant for a much bigger organization with full-time employees and associated legal checks-and-balances.
  • March: We’ve decided to approach more local sources, so volunteers are looking to the Champlin and Rhode Island Foundations to assess possible funding interest. The Non-Herbicide group now has two teams so best investigate and, possibly, apply for grants.

Longtime non-herbicide committee members are Connie Worthington, Michael Carley, Judy Colaluca, and Carolyn Fortuna. Recent additions to the committee are Marissa Danville, Terry Tulles, and Sharon Heone. If you’d like to be part of this worthwhile committee, contact chair Carolyn Fortuna: c4tuna31@gmail.com.

Herbicide: The Herbicide Committee team is up and running. We have asked Solitude Lake Management to be in charge of administering herbicide treatment to 46 acres at a cost of $10,500. A  DEM Permit has been sought. The team, which includes Deb Silva, Cleo Monti, Ray Theriault, Judy Colaluca, and Jason Dionne, is looking at a variety of fundraising options to finance herbicide applications as a way to mitigate invasive species on Smith & Sayles Reservoir.

GoFundMe Site— Marissa and Dennis Danville

If you are unable to attend the wine tasting at Bella but still want to contribute, you are more than welcome to donate on our GoFundMe page. Please also feel free to share this with family and friends.

www.gofundme.com/sanddamri

Fundraising is a significant part of our overall budget; when it comes to caring for our lake, we need your help. Thank you!

Keech Pond Liaison – Rico Colaluca

The Gatehouse located on Keech Dam is now closed and the Pond is full, so there is water flowing into Smith & Sayles Reservoir from Keech Pond. Our lake is now rising due to this infusion of water plus the precipitation from the winter season’s storms.

Nomination and Elections – Rico Colaluca and Steve Hanley

Members are encouraged to contact Rico or Steve if you wish to nominate yourself or another member to serve as an officer or on the board of directors. Our annual meeting in June will be here before you know it.

Save the Lakes – Judy Colaluca

Save The Lakes is busy planning the annual Spring Event. More information will be sent to you. There are many activities being planned for the warmer weather. Earth Day is approaching and children are making posters depicting the best ways to take care of freshwater here in Rhode Island. Join Save The Lakes and work to improve all freshwater in Rhode Island.

Final Thoughts from our SDRA President

Thank you to all who serve SDRA in so many different ways — your time and efforts are always appreciated. I am so fortunate to work with you. See you at our Wine Tasting Dinner on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

Think Spring,

Judy

December 2017 SDRA Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter

December, 2017

www.sanddamreservoir.com

Board of Directors’ Updates

Officers’ Updates

President- Judy Colaluca

Winter is here!  The thin layer of ice appearing early in the morning at our lake’s shoreline is a sign of the change in the weather. This is the time of year when I think about what has happened on our lake and how to make plans for the future.  

Lake life is beautiful, peaceful and enjoyable in every way. Sometimes, as we all know, life throws us a few curve balls and changes our plans that have been carefully set. Evaluating what is occurring concerning our lake is the constant job of the SDRA Board of Directors. We look at a situation and discuss it from many angles — talking about different ideas and not always agreeing– but each Board member is treated with highest respect for his/ her opinion. We strive to develop a path that the majority of ALL SDRA members will be comfortable following. NO one choice makes everyone happy ! Doing nothing — improves nothing; waiting — only postpones a decision– and just to change and do something only improves a situation for a short time.

That is what appears to have happened before: expensive chemicals killed the weeds for a short time, and now they are back.  We did not have a plan for continuous control. Currently, there are several plans working to control weeds: drawdown, cleanup of pollutants, boat inspection program, suction harvester, hand weed pulling, a Lakesmart Program, and others.

The decision to use or not use chemicals is up to the majority – but- everyone needs to be involved and do something no matter the decision. Our vote will help the Board determine the direction to follow before we have to take the next curve. There is much work to be done, many conversations to have, and final decisions to make. I sincerely recommend that you get involved — call a Board member for ideas how.

Vice President- Carolyn Fortuna

The autumn was busy for the executive board of Sand Dam Reservoir Association. We’re working closely with the Lake Management Committee to formulate a series of strategies to mitigate the invasive weeds in Smith & Sayles Reservoir. To do so, we hired ESS to return to our lake, survey the 184 acres, determine changes that have occurred since our last survey in 2015, and share their recommendations. You can see that report on the Lake Management page of our Sand Dam Reservoir Association website.

We’ve also been networking with other Associations and agencies to determine some long-term practices to maintain the lake water quality. Of interest has been a possible LakeSmart program in conjunction with Save the Lakes and other interested groups. This program recognizes waterfront homeowners who use natural landscaping strategies to protect the health of their lake. We’ll be investigating that program further and hope to be able to work alongside DEM so that Smith & Sayles Reservoir becomes a model for an education and reward program. We’ll acknowledge and celebrate lakefront property owners who maintain their homes in ways that protect lake water quality and property values.

I learn so much from each of you as we work together toward protecting our much-beloved lake. I am in awe every time I see one of you, my neighbors, pulling or raking out invasive weeds at the lake’s edge while the drawdown is occurring. You are truly making a difference.

Happy holidays to you and your cherished ones.

Secretary – Mary O’Keeffe

In this season of being grateful, I feel blessed to be part of a group of hard-working and dedicated individuals who serve on the SDRA Board. Our monthly Board meetings are productive and respectful. We are all collaborating to protect and preserve our beautiful lake.

The SDRA website (https://sanddamreservoir.com/) and quarterly newsletters are designed to keep members informed about our efforts. If you know somebody who would like to be added to our mailing list, please forward their email address to SDRA.secretary@cox.net.

Treasurer-  Eric LaRiviere

As the 2017 year is nearly behind us, it’s nice to look back and see how many Association members taken an active role in our lake’s future.  Many of you have attended some of our meetings and have expressed some very valuable viewpoints.  We may not all agree at times, but we need to respect each member’s opinion and know each person’s voice is as important as the next.         

As the Association’s Treasurer, I am aware of our need to maintain a healthy financial picture. We have already begun planning for next year’s fundraising events. For those of you who attended this year’s Wine Tasting and Dinner at Bella’s Restaurant, I think you would all agree it was a great success.  We had so much positive feedback that we have already set April 14th, 2018 aside for a repeat performance.  So Save the Date, and I look forward to a very positive and productive new year.

Best regards to you and your family.

Continue reading “December 2017 SDRA Newsletter”

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Quarterly Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter

September, 2017

www.sanddamreservoir.com

Officers’ Updates

President

At the 2017- 2018 Annual Meeting I had the pleasure of presenting Dave Morin with a plaque for his  effort,  dedication, long (and often cold) hours of service to Sand Dam Reservoir Association as Dam Master. Dave has always been an enthusiastic member of the SDRA Board, sharing his love, concerns, and ideas for our lake.  Thank you, Dave, for all you have done.

Announcing Mike Benoit as our new Dam Master is my honor. In the past,  Mike has worked many hours collecting data for the drawdown and assisting Dave at the dam. Thank you, Mike, for assuming this important job here on our lake.

The Lake Management Team has recommended to the SDRA Board to hire ESS Group to do a survey of our lake and make updated management recommendations. This will take place shortly.  Their report will be shared with ALL SDRA members. The ESS Group did the original report in 2015.  The ESS collected  data from their 2017 report will now guide us in the direction SDRA should follow in the coming 2018 year. There will be a general membership meeting to discuss the findings. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns. Judycolaluca@aol.com

As I have stated numerous times, and is written in our management plan,  ALL tools need to be utilized  in the toolbox  to manage our weed problem. Relying on only one method of controlling invasive weeds will not offer us lasting freedom from weeds. Invasive weeds are here, and we need to exercise ALL our options for best management. This is where all lakefront  owners play an important role in controlling the weeds, as how they treat their property is extremely important to our community.

Judy Colaluca

Vice President

With the 2017-2018 Annual Meeting elections, Sand Dam Reservoir Association (SDRA) had a change in some officers and directors. But, because we work as a community, we’re helping each other to learn the role and responsibilities of our new positions.

I thank Marissa Danville and Brian Sirois for reaching out to our newest (and returning) board member, Steve Hopkins. I’ve been working with Eric Lariviere in his new role as treasurer. And I thank Judy Colaluca, who is always so generous with her time and guidance as I learn my own new position. We’re so lucky to have Judy lead the SDRA!

In the months to come, my role as Vice President will evolve, and I’ll take on tasks that support the other officers, the board, and committee chairs. I’ve been participating in the boat ramp greeter program, creating a literature review for the Lake Management Committee, investigating Maine’s LakeSmart program as a model for our own,  joining in on suction harvester weed pull days, coordinating the Association newsletter, updating the website, and serving as SDRA liaison to the NRISoS. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at c4tuna31@gmail.com if I can be of any assistance to you as one of our valued Association members.

— Carolyn Fortuna

Secretary

Challenging times can bring out the best and the worst in people. An example of the former is seen in the response to Hurricane Harvey and support for victims. Signe Wilkinson illustrated this beautifully in a cartoon that ran in Sunday’s Providence Journal. Divergent political signs are underwater as a boat carries a diverse group of victims to safety.

Another example of the former can be seen in the actions of the SDRA Board. The SDRA Board members recognize the need for everyone to listen to all opinions, and the Board remains gracious and respectful when a variety of perspectives emerge.

The current SDRA Board is composed of elected representatives who, while sometimes holding very different views, work together in a spirit of mutual respect to protect and preserve the lake. They listen, plan, and respond. Numerous efforts are underway to respond to this season’s heavy weed growth. I feel privileged to work with such a hardworking and committed group of individuals.

Mary O’Keeffe

Committee Chair Updates

Boat Greeter Program

If you’ve looked at ESS recommendations and the SDRA Lake Management Plan, you know that one important element of the plan is the voluntary inspection program. We work during fishing tournaments to educate boaters on the importance of cleaning their boats in order to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. We also show them how to inspect their boats for plant material, and we remove any plant material we find. Over the past few seasons, plant material has been found on about 20% of boats we inspect.

We have one remaining tournament this season, on Thursday, September 21st. What better way is there to end the season than with a nice group of volunteers to help with this education and outreach effort that is so important to our Lake Management Plan? We’ll meet at the Boat Launch at about 4:30p.m. and will be done in time for you to be home for supper (5:30-6ish).

I hope you will consider joining us for this important task. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at mokeeffe@providence.edu.

– Mary O’Keeffe

Events with SDRA — Weed Harvesting

Several sessions of weed harvesting have taken place since the lake warmed up in the early summer. We want to thank everyone who has given up his or her personal time to learn how to participate with the suction harvesting. Yes, it’s muddy work, but it is really rewarding to see the piles of milfoil being hauled off for composting at a farmer’s field.

One session was particularly well-attended. On Saturday, August 19, 2017, a group of 17 SDRA members and their families joined together to work on the suction harvester and to hand-harvest weeds. Here are some pictures from that day of community volunteerism.

 

Also, as you may know from a recent newsflash, suspicious weed growth in a small cove was confirmed through DEM as Invasive Phragmites. On September 2, a group of volunteers, including Art & Ken Searle, Judy & Rico Colaluca, Bill D’Agostino, Stephen Hanley, and Mary O’Keeffe, worked together in small boats and knee-deep muck. Seed tops were clipped, bagged, and removed for immediate incineration. An herbicide/surfactant mix was sprayed on the plants. After the plants die and dry, they will be incinerated in place (after the drawdown).

These plants are very invasive, with 80% of the plant mass growth under water. They should not be hand pulled, since doing so guarantees new, vigorous growth. This area of the lake will be monitored closely for the foreseeable future. Special thanks to Phyllis and Gene Pezzullo for allowing us onto their property to perform this important work, and Art for his keen eyes and quick planning!

Lake Management Plan

Oh, to wave a magic wand and make milfoil disappear. Regrettably, managing milfoil is a much more complex, time consuming, long-term aggravation. One benefit milfoil has brought about, though, is renewed interest in our lake’s quality and swelling ranks of “Team Lake Management.” The increased involvement is a good thing, because milfoil is bigger than any single person’s, or small team’s abilities. Serving with people whose passion lies with sustainable, innovative solutions to milfoil’s major issues is quite rewarding. You are invited to join us and make your ideas, your research, and your voices heard as we determine the best courses of action for our unique circumstances. Our September 13 meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30pm at 61 Wood Road.

Actions the Lake Management Team are evaluating for possible recommendation to the SDRA Board include:

  • Meeting with DEM for the purpose of requesting deeper drawdown depths.
  • Virtual conference with directors of Lake Saint Catherine, located in VT. Lake Saint Catherine’s association is effectively (some Wells, VT residents have said, “Miraculously”) managing milfoil with an innovative technique known as Inversion Oxygenation. We want to know more about their success and how it might benefit our lake.
  • Applying herbicide to milfoil.
  • Hiring college interns or professional divers to perform diver assisted suction harvesting.
  • Educating property owners about the detrimental effects of runoff, compost, and fertilizer on water quality and milfoil growth.

SDRA has wrestled with milfoil for a decade. It is readily apparent that no single approach is the sustainable, magic bullet we might wish for. We need a well stocked solutions box from which to draw. You are encouraged to join us as we seek, recommend, develop, and deploy those solutions.  

— Art Searle

Save the LakesSTL is currently working on developing ways to benefit all freshwater. Stop by the STL booth at the Green Festival in Burrillville on Saturday, September 9, 2017. The Green Festival offers family activities such as face painting, crafts, music, and bucket truck rides . Adults can learn about various methods of conservation from green vendors like SLT that will be participating in the Festival. Food trucks and the Burrillville Farmers Market will have fresh, local products for sale.

— Judy Colaluca

Final Notes from our President

In summary, WE all love OUR beautiful lake. Everyone has the right to express their own opinion with respect from others. Here on Smith and Sayles Reservoir there are many jobs that can be done- no job too small.  There are actions that are currently be accomplished-  get involved. Working alongside your water neighbors is a great experience and benefits all property owners!

My deepest thanks to all who have given and done so much for all of us here on Smith and Sayles Reservoir!!

Judy!

June 2017 Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter

www.sanddamreservoir.com

Officers’ Updates

President, Judy  Colaluca

Summer 2017 is almost here. Seriously, it is not March as the weather makes us feel! And it is time for the Annual SDRA Meeting.  This has been a very busy year around and on OUR beautiful lake.  SDRA Board Members have worked extremely diligently to determine ways to improve and protect OUR lakefront community.

In the middle of winter, Mike Benoit is collecting data on OUR lake’s oxygen level or assisting Dave Morin as Dam Master, controlling the water level at OUR dam. Meanwhile, Art Searle records this data on graphs for DEM. This spring, Art and Aaron Colaluca address ways of improving our Suction Harvester to be put to use shortly, including a procedures manual for its use. Deb Silva continues to collect water samples for URI Watershed Watch Program

And then there are the important fundraising and administrative duties. This past winter, Brian Sirois, Eric LaRiviere, and Marissa Danville organized the very successful wine tasting dinner as a fundraiser. Marissa monitors the Go Fund Me page. Mary O’Keeffe’s detailed meeting notes keep us on target, and her organizing the boat inspection program prevents unwanted weeds from entering OUR lake. Carolyn Fortuna’s comprehensive treasurer’s report and her writing of the quarterly newsletter informs all of the actions of SDRA.  

I have said it many times: it is a privilege to live here and an honor to work with the SDRA Association . Working together as a TEAM, the SDRA Board continues to support ways to improve and protect Our water.

I hope to see you at the Annual Meeting on June 21st when you can learn more about OUR community. Consider signing up for a committee. Your “hands”  are necessary, as there are always challenges to meet and work to be done from your water’s edge to the surrounding watershed — every person’s actions make a difference!  

Secretary, Mary O’Keeffe

Your SDRA board has been meeting regularly on important matters relative to lake management, fundraising, and protecting our beautiful lake. The board members (Eric, Marissa, & Brian) have brought new ideas, and the great success of our April fundraising dinner was due in large part to their coordination and planning efforts. Our Lake Management team members have been monitoring water quality, making improvements to the suction harvester, and proactively planning efforts to reduce the impact of aquatic invasive species to preserve and protect the lake.

We look forward to seeing you at the June 21st annual meeting and hope you will consider getting more involved in our efforts.

Treasurer, Carolyn Fortuna

I am very proud of the efforts of our SDRA officers and board this year. We made a decision to use a significant amount of the funds we had accumulated through grant-writing, funding-raising, and dues over the last few years to purchase a suction harvester. If our first efforts at its use late last summer were any indication, this device is just what we need to reduce the impact that invasive milfoil has had on our lake. But the purchase did reduce our treasury. That didn’t stop our board.

When you come to the annual meeting on June 21st at the Glocester Town Hall at 6 p.m. for refreshments and networking and 7 p.m. for the business meeting, you’ll see how the determination and resilience of our active membership have returned our treasury to full health.

GoFundMe Site: Marissa and Denny Danville

The GoFundMe site is available for donations. Our balance remains at $985 with $100 of that from this year. Thank you to everyone that donated, and please continue to visit and share the site at www.gofundme.com/sanddamri. Thank you!

Board of Directors’ Report

Eric LaRiviere: As a member of the Board of Directors for the past two years, I’ve experienced first hand how passionate our members are about maintaining the cleanliness and natural beauty of our lake. Over the past several months, we have been actively working with the Town Council in an attempt to reduce the amount of litter we have on our roadways and in our lake.  Simple changes such as covering our trash while en route to the transfer station will reduce the amount of garbage littering our streets.  

I look forward to our annual meeting to get more neighbors involved to share ideas to better combat this issue.  

Programs and Committees

Lake Management Plan, Art Searle

Members of the lake management team, including Aaron and Rico Colaluca, are in the process of revising the weed suction harvester. As purchased, the weed suction harvester used onion bags as a primary collection system. Onion bags are a major hassle; they do not biodegrade, cost money, are one use items, and are time consuming to empty. Further, the arrangement of the onion bags required an awkward, forty pound lift. Our goals are to eliminate the use of onion bags and streamline the overall operation. We are in the process of testing modifications and hope to have an improved, working system in place as soon as possible.

Opportunities to harvest weeds with the suction harvester will be plentiful. Dense, widespread beds of milfoil cover much of the southern third of our lake. The more the harvester runs, the better. We encourage teams to plan for and reserve the suction harvester. Visit the SDRA Suction Harvester Calendar (https://goo.gl/cvAsg0) to ensure the day(s) you would like are open.

If you would like instruction on how the harvester works, would like to volunteer with a team, want to reserve a single or repeating days, or otherwise want to participate, please contact Art Searle or Rico Colaluca.

Save the Lakes, Judy Colaluca

As a statewide association, Save The Lakes (STL) continues to sponsor and support activities which foster Best Practices around fresh water here in Rhode Island. STL has been active this year at the RI Statehouse to support bills that will improve the quality of fresh water in Rhode Island.

If you are interested in joining STL to help to improve, protect, or preserve fresh water in RI, go to the website for more information. Here is the web site at wwwSTL.RI.org for more information.

Boat Greeter Program,  Mary O’Keeffe

Once again this year I am looking for folks to join me at the boat launch to help with the boat greeter and voluntary inspection program. As in past years, we will be targeting fishing tournaments and high-traffic times on the lake. Our primary objective is to build goodwill and educate boaters on the importance of proper boater hygiene to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. We typically find that 20-25% of boats arriving at the launch have plant material (that will be transported to OUR lake if not removed)! Information about the program and a link to the volunteer handbook can be found at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/water/quality/surface-water/aisresp.php

I will bring a sign-up sheet to the annual meeting. A preliminary list of dates and times appears below. I hope you will consider joining me at the launch for this important education and outreach effort.

If you are interested or have questions, please email me at mokeeffe@providence.edu.

Summer 17 boat inspection dates (tournaments):

  • June 17th 5-6:30am
  • June 22 4-5:30pm
  • June 24 4-5:30pm
  • July 11 4-5:30pm
  • July 21 5-6:30am
  • July 30 12-1:30pm
  • Aug 8 4-5:30pm
  • Aug 10 4-5:30am
  • Aug 12 5-6:30am
  • Sept 21 4-5:30pm

Nominations and Elections, Rico Colaluca and Steve Hanley

Under the current SDRA by-laws, there are 4 officers — president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer — and three directors. The officers and directors comprise the executive board, which makes management decisions regarding the stewardship of Sand Dam Reservoir Association during the year between annual meetings.

Officers serve for a two year term and may not serve more than 2 terms in the same position. Directors serve a three year term. Their terms are staggered so that the term of one expires every year. The nominating committee would like to thank the current Board for all their hard work and their service. Lynn Kohanski’s term as VP and Carolyn Fortuna’s term as Treasurer are up this year. These were 2 year terms, and they have chosen to step down from these positions. Eric LaRiviere’s term as 3 year director is also up this year.

The successful management of our lake depends on having as many people as possible participate in the organization. The nominating committee reaches out to those it believes would make effective officers or directors each year at the annual meeting, at social occasions, and directly via personal interactions.

All members of SDRA in good standing are eligible to serve as an officer or director. The executive board meets once a month, and all meetings are limited to no more than 90 minutes in length. Any member who wishes to be serve as an officer or director of the organization is welcome to contact the nominating committee or any member of the executive board at any time.

Meetings are open to any and all members, who are encouraged to attend. The proceedings are conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. Matters that concern good stewardship of the lake are discussed, and some members of the board are asked to gather more information on a topic to better inform the board on important matters that concern the membership.

Prior to the annual meeting, the members of the nominating committee meet to discuss the slate of candidates that will be offered for the consideration of the membership each year.  These are suggestions only. Nominations from the membership at the time of the annual meeting are encouraged.

Any organization is only as strong as its members. Being part of the management of our lake takes only a few hours each month, and it vital to maintaining Sand Dam Reservoir as the central focal point of our lake community.

 

 

September 2015 Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter

September, 2015

logo

www.sanddamreservoir.com

Board of Directors’ Updates

President- Judy Colaluca

What a great summer it has been here on Smith and Sayles!!  All recreational endeavors around and in OUR lake are just wonderful this summer!!  One of my most favorite activities is to listen to my grandchildren laugh as they splash and play in the water. What fun they have!! All the “kids,” young and old, have something they enjoy doing in the lake. For example, catching the biggest fish, swimming the furthest or doing the craziest stunt on the tube, and more are reasons to work hard at keeping our lake in perfect condition.

The awarding of the grant for a suction harvester should be known soon and that will be just another tool for us to “Protect” our lake. The team effort on this lake is terrific- but we could always use more hands to lighten the load. If you want to be active, just let me know. Help is needed to:

  • 1) Assist the divers in weed pulling on September 19th — work on boats, cleaning up, financial donations;
  • 2) Boat Inspection Program– checking boats to make sure no other invasive weed is introduced into our lake;
  • 3) Planning educational workshops for landowners to improve their land without fostering weeds;
  • 4)  Grant searching and writing;
  • 5)  Planning a fall clean up on Chestnut Hill Road;
  • 6) Fund raising- be sure to reserve a ticket for our wine tasting at Mulberry Vineyards here in Chepachet and check out http://www.gofundme.com/SandDamRI —- and others as your ideas develop.

As the summer winds down -Enjoy the Lake!! Contact a member of the SDRA Board with your suggestions concerns, ideas, and your willingness to join your neighbors for the improvement of OUR lake.

On Saturday, August 29, Mary, Art, Rico, several STL members, and I went  to Hickory Hills Lake to watch a suction harvester in action! It was fascinating  and much easier to operate than I had thought. There will be more information coming on this machine.  

See you around the lake,

Judy   

Vice President – Lynn Kohanski

I hope everyone is enjoying their last few weeks of summer on the lake.  We have a lot of great ways to continue to help the lake thrive as Autumn quickly approaches.  How about getting a few close family and friends together to attend an SDRA-sponsored wine tasting at Mulberry Vineyard? This is a great event to socialize and support our SDRA lake community and also a great kick-off to the fall season.  

Also, thanks to the Danville’s for setting up an SDRA gofundme page.  This is another easy way to help us reach our goal of $30,000 to get a new suction harvester for the lake. Please share the link/page recently sent out.  Again, with all the wonderful things happening here,  I encourage everyone to get involved in any way they feel comfortable. I hope to see/meet you at one of our events.

Secretary- Mary O’Keeffe

The 2015 annual meeting was a great success, with 30 SDRA members and friends in attendance. New for this year’s meeting was a 6-7pm social hour to provide friends and neighbors with an opportunity to “catch up” before the meeting. Our President (Judy) and Treasurer (Carolyn) put out an excellent spread of hors d’oeuvres and desserts (with other SDRA members also contributing tasty snacks). Also, as part of this community building effort, Vice President (Lynn) brought a large map of the lake and members worked together to identify “who lives where.” This year’s meeting was held at Glocester Town Hall. The meeting space, internet access (for presentations), and kitchen facilities were excellent, and we hope to hold future SDRA annual meetings at Town Hall.

The formal meeting ran from 7-9pm. Officers and Standing Committees made their reports, and a motion to change the SDRA By-Laws was approved. The main substantive By-Laws changes were to impose a two-year term limit on SDRA officers and reduce the residency requirement from 3 years to 1 year for the Directors. These changes are designed to promote active involvement from a wider range of members. Special thanks was given to Janice Baker, Rico Colaluca, Carolyn Fortuna, Dave Morin, and Art Searle for their extensive committee work, and, of course, to Judy Colaluca for her outstanding leadership as SDRA president.

New business included  a report from Judy and Art on the ESS (Environmental Consulting and Engineering Services) survey results, discussion of the Mulberry Vineyards fundraising event (see notice later in the newsletter), and an invitation to Sand Dam Day, hosted this year by Carolyn Fortuna and Steve Hanley.

As you can see, we had a wonderfully productive and enjoyable time together. Be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s SDRA annual meeting which will be held Wednesday, June 15th.

Treasurer-  Carolyn Fortuna

Our SDRA Annual Meeting in June gave attendees a convenient way to pay their 2015-2016 dues.  Twenty-one families paid dues of $50 each, which boosted our bank balance considerably.  

If you paid dues during our Spring 2015 Membership Drive, thank you.  Your contribution allowed you to have a vote and voice at our Annual Meeting. Please remember: Our new fiscal year begins on July 1— after the Annual Meeting.  If you did not pay dues at the Annual Meeting or since, you may not be caught up for the new SDRA year.  If you have any questions as to your dues currency, please feel free to email me at c4tuna31@gmail.com. I’ll be happy to check the records and get back to you.  

I’ll be sending out membership letters and renewal forms over the next month as well. Please mail your dues to SDRA, PO Box 284, Chepachet, RI 02814.

Standing Committees

Boat Greeter Program – Mary O’Keeffe

The GREAT (Greeting Recreationalists to Empower and Train Boaters) Boat Greeter program has been active this summer, providing education and outreach to address the problem of invasive species. In addition to the focus on invasive species common in the area (e.g., variable milfoil, fanwort, inflated bladderwort, Asian clam), we’ve also been talking to boaters about Largemouth Bass Virus, which has been found this summer in Echo Lake and Olney Pond. LMBV is spread through water and can live for up to 7 days. This reinforces the critical importance of proper boater hygiene (especially cleaning live wells, bags, and equipment) in order to keep our lake and wildlife healthy.

We have two remaining tournament dates for the season, Thursday, September 17th (4 pm start time) and Sunday, September 20th (6am start time). We’d love to have you join us if you are interested in seeing us in action and/or getting some on-the-job training.

Dam Master – Dave Morin

It has been a very, very easy summer to maintain the water levels at our lake, as we’ve had no significant rains.  I’ve not had to go down on the water levels since the very beginning of the summer, in late May, when we had rains.  Since then, the normal amount of seepage has occurred to meet DEM requirements.

Over Columbus Day Weekend, we’ll begin drawing the water down.  We already have a head-start on it with the low rain levels this summer.  As the water goes down, we open up more.  Our ability to regulate the water levels also depends on Keach Pond’s plan to open up.  We try to start before they do, to compensate for having to get rid of their water.  Bertha Bedard is very helpful in letting us know when the water is flowing out of Keach. Eventually, we go over to the old dam and slide gate.  We play around with that until we get the level down to where we want it to be.  It all depends on the rain and snow that we get.  Hopefully, before the freeze, we’ll have it down to the 54” mark.

Drawdown – Judy Colaluca and Art Searle

The annual drawdown will begin October 10, 2015, during Columbus Day weekend. We expect to drawdown approximately 1 to 2 inches per day until we reach our permitted drawdown depth of 54 inches. RI DEM, ESS Group’s June 2015 report, and our own visual inspections of the lake indicate that the drawdown helps control the growth and spread of milfoil. It is apparent that there are fewer patches of milfoil and that the patches are less dense than they were during the summer of 2014. We expect to meet with Brian Moore, DEM’s Office of Water Resources Chief during the fall to present the results of last winter’s drawdown.

Once the drawdown begins, we will provide a link so that you can monitor aspects of the drawdown such as lake level and other environmental conditions. If you would like to participate by taking lake measurements of dissolved oxygen measurements, we would love to hear from you. Contact us at your convenience if you have additional questions.

Our Next SDRA Event: Wine Tasting at Mulberry Vineyards— Ashley Hopkins and Carolyn Fortuna

On Friday, September 25, 2015, from 6-9:00 p.m., SDRA will host a Wine Tasting at Mulberry Vineyards, 95 Pound Road, Chepachet.  Come join us as we attempt to raise funds to reduce invasive weeds on our lake.  Tickets are $15 each ahead of time and can be reserved through c4tuna31@gmail.com or ashleyhopkins8@live.com.  Tickets are $18 the night of the event. Appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages also will be served. Please share the flyer above and general announcement with family, friends, co-workers, and others who might be interested in a friendly night out for a really good cause. Think about it:  if each SDRA member sold 5 tickets, we’d have a strong showing of commitment for DEM. We’d demonstrate that we have local capacity and are ready to provide matching funding for our suction harvester grant application.

Help us to sustain our lake and to help other lake association to understand how environmentally sound approaches to lake management can make arise from innovation and teamwork. Come be part of our Mulberry Vineyards Fundraising event.  Thanks!

Other Fundraising– Marissa and Dennis Danville

The gofundme website is now up and running. We have already received several donations towards our goal of $30k for a suction harvester. Please share the following link with friends and family:

http://www.gofundme.com/SandDamRI

You can also share this on Facebook and twitter by visiting the site and clicking share or tweet, this is a great way to reach a large number of people quickly!!

Keech Pond Liaison – Rico Colaluca

I met with John Holmes recently and informed him of a need to start draining our lake before Keech Pond drains into our lake. He told me to call him when we begin to start draining our lake and he  will give us a few days before he begins to drain Keech Pond. I  stated we will start our drawdown on Columbus Day Weekend.

Lake Management Plan – Sam Hawkes

Divers Weed Pulling-— Saturday, September 19, 2015 is the date currently scheduled to have certified scuba divers return to the lake to pull invasive weeds this year. There will be 2 divers coming with full diving gear ready to work for the day. There is currently no cost associated with this activity; however, we will be providing the divers with a token of our gratitude (yet to be determined, although there’s talk of revisiting last year’s pizza party hit).

There are several activities and supplies that will need to be procured in preparation for the divers to make their time as efficient and effective as possible. Tow and haul boats, tarps, and volunteers will be greatly appreciated. This should be another great chance to build SDRA comradery! More details to come.

Water Testing — Myles and Deb Silva

Water testing this year has gone well. We have installed a new water test mooring at the north end to make our test results more repeatable. The water appears very clear with  visibility to three meters. The high  temperature as of yesterday is a warm 84 F.

Save the Lakes – Judy Colaluca

Save The Lakes was awarded a Resolution in the Senate Chambers at the RI State House this past June.  How exciting to know that RI state leaders are supporting actions that concern freshwater across our beautiful state. The cesspool bill past this term and that benefits all lakes and ponds. There will be more educational workshops in the coming months. Check out the wesite www.stlri.com

Website and Education – Steve Hanley and Carolyn Fortuna

If you couldn’t be attendance for our annual Sand Dam Day festivities, check out the article Steve wrote on the Sand Dam Reservoir Association website:  “Sand Dam Day 2015 A Smashing Success!”  

Are you part of the network of 215 individuals who follow our website?  If not, it’s easy to do! Go to our website at http://www.sanddamreservoir.com.  On the Home page, in the right hand margin, you’ll see the bold title invitation to Follow This Blog. Click on it and fill in the information requested. After that, every time we send out a notice of What’s Happening at SDRA, you will get an email with the update.  It’s really easy to stay in touch this way with SDRA.  

The website contains lots of pages of information about our Association and the lake itself.  You can find documents relating to our lake management plan, all the announcements and articles we’ve posted, a history of our Association, descriptions of the lake itself, and much more.  The website is a good resource, one that is always evolving and changing — with your help!  If you have something that you’d like to see included on our SDRA website, please send it along to schanley45@gmail.com or c4tuna31@gmail.com.

SDRA Voluntary Inspection Program: Promoting Proper Boater Hygiene to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

SDRA Voluntary Inspection Program:

Promoting Proper Boater Hygiene to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

The 2014 season of lakefront recreation on Smith & Sayles Reservoir (SSR) is now behind us, and the lake drawdown has begun. Of the many activities that members and guests enjoyed on SSR  this summer, fishing was, as always, popular.  Indeed, due to the frequency of fishing boat launches on the boat ramp, Sand Dam Reservoir Association (SDRA) has conducted a voluntary Boat Inspection program in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Protection (DEM) and Save The Lakes (STL) for the last two seasons.

Boat inspections are important on SSR and other Rhode Island lakes because Rhode Island is the only state in New England that does not have a formal inspection program to monitor boats that visit boat ramps. According to Mary O’Keeffe, Boat Inspection Coordinator for SDRA, “DEM and other State agencies need to take this problem more seriously and provide support (both in terms of staff and proper washing stations) for a formal boat launch inspection program.” She reminds us that the problem of invasive species is not going away, and the infestation will only get worse unless Rhode Island takes serious, formal steps to monitor boats and educate boaters. SDRA has four core Boat Inspection volunteers– Mary O’Keeffe, Ron Baker, Judy Colaluca, and Carolyn Fortuna— as well as occasional additional folks who conduct boat inspections when bass fishing tournaments take place on SSR. These boat greeters were trained over the 2013 winter and provided written materials as resources for themselves and boaters.

In order to determine when the SDRA Boat Inspection team would be needed at the ramp, coordinator Mary O’Keeffe worked prior to the 2014 bass fishing season alongside DEM, which provided an itinerary of planned fishing tournaments.  Fifteen tournaments were scheduled for SSR, and SDRA’s Boat Inspection volunteers were present at the boat launch for 13 of the 15 tournaments.  (The only tournaments in which greeters were not present were March 30 and July 25th.)

The Boat Inspection team inspected 117 boats during the 2014 season. A total of 24 boats had plant material with suspected invasives upon arrival.  That means about 20% of the boats were “dirty” boats: boats that had the potential to infest SSR with invasive species.

What is the process like to inspect a boat?

Program coordinator Mary O’Keeffe outlined SDRA’s Boat Inspection program.

“First, we approach the owners to introduce ourselves, explain the voluntary Inspection program, and talk a bit about the problem of invasive species— both in general and on our lake. If we have freebies to hand out (floating keychains, bumper stickers with rulers for measuring fish), we provide these to the boater and ask for permission to perform the inspection. We then walk around the boat, looking for plant material. It is important to look under the boat and inspect the trailer, since this is where plant material is often found. If plant material is found, we show it to the boater and explain that even very small plant fragments can spread invasives from one lake to another. If the boater is willing, we also inspect the live well on the boat and explain that this is also an area that can carry invasives. This provides an opportunity to talk about animal invasives like Asian clams and zebra mussels.”

Ron Baker, longtime SDRA member, states that fishing clubs “get indoctrinated as they apply for and receive tournament licenses.”  As a result, Ron feels that “they are our most enlightened contacts at the launch.” Over the two years of the SDRA Boat Inspection program, many of the tournament members have come to recognize the SDRA volunteers and share stories of their catches and experiences on other lakes.

“I didn’t expect the boat inspections to be so much fun,” Carolyn Fortuna reveals.  “It’s a wonderful opportunity to contribute to a sustainable future for our lake.  And it’s great to connect in such an easy-going way with my neighbors. I get excited right along with the fishing tournament members as the bass are weighed and the winning catch is announced.”

Are only bass fishing boats inspected? If not, what other boats are inspected?

The SDRA Boat Inspection team inspects all boats, as long as the owner is willing. It is important to remember that it is not only bass fishing boats that can bring in weeds:  even kayaks and canoes can spread invasive species. Mary recalls that “we even had one individual who wore waders and a floatation device (more like an inner tube than a boat) who allowed us to look over his equipment.”

“The least indoctrinated are they who are not club members, the ‘transients,’” Ron has determined.  He feels that “the launch should be monitored on weekends and holidays for contact” with this population who have not been educated about the transmission of invasive species by boat. While SDRA has made progress on educating boaters about the transmission of invasive species, more work remains to be done.

What kinds of responses does the Boat Inspection team get from the boaters who are greeted?

The SDRA Boat Inspection team has found that most boaters are friendly and willing to let the volunteers perform the inspections.

“The fact that we have t-shirts with DEM and Save the Lake logos makes us appear more legitimate, and thus boaters are more cooperative,” Mary acknowledges. “Sometimes boaters would say that they practice good boater hygiene, but we’d still find plant material upon inspection.” In fact, one boater mentioned how he had traveled across the Rhode Island border to fish at a lake in Massachusetts and had been fined $50 for having a small plant fragment on his trailer.

Do members of the Boat Inspection team advocate for other lakes to create such a program?  If so, what does that community-building look like?

All members of the Boat inspection team strongly endorse such programs for other lakes. In particular, as president of Save the Lakes, the Rhode Island-wide initiative to promote education and understanding about lake quality, Judy Colaluca has spent a great deal of time advocating for other Rhode Island lakes to initiate a Boat Inspection program. Christine Dudley of DEM will be invited in the future to be part of ongoing discussions about increasing Boat Inspection programs statewide. Additionally, Judy and Mary will also try to collaborate with 2015 tournament organizers to help encourage more boaters to assume responsibility for promoting proper boater hygiene.

Judy and Mary plan to hold an “on-site” boat launch inspection training for the Keech Pond Lake Association early during the 2015 season to try to motivate them to create their own voluntary inspection program. Such a program on Keech Pond would have multiple positive consequences.  Keech Pond members would have a better understanding of the types of invasives currently in their body of water and the degree of their infestation.  They would have the tools to educate their members about ways to reduce the spread of invasives.  And, as a major water source feeder for SSR, Keech Pond has the capacity to both introduce more invasive species into SSR or to stymie their infusion into SSR. A voluntary Boat Inspection program on Keech Pond like that of SDRA would have a tremendous impact on the future health of both bodies of water.

If you’d like to learn more about being part of SDRA’s Boat Inspection program, please contact any member of the team.  New greeters are always welcomed. You’d be contributing to your lake water quality, your community, and to the health of Rhode Island lakes.